Question of Palestine home
26 October 1999
Tuesday, 26 October 1999, 10 a.m.
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda items 64, 65 and 67 to 85
Thematic discussion on item subjects; introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions submitted under all disarmament and international security items
(Egypt): The delegation of Egypt has the honour to introduce, on behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States, the draft resolution contained in document
, entitled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”. In order to accommodate the concerns of many interested delegations, the draft was subject to intensive consultations, which led to its submission as it now appears. It is based on the draft resolution that the General Assembly adopted last year under the same agenda item.
Once again the draft resolution takes into account the prevailing realities in the Middle East region. These realities underline a basic fact in the Middle East: Israel remains the only State in the region that has not acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is precisely what the seventh preambular paragraph objectively states. We are not engaging in name-calling, nor are we singling out anyone; we are simply making a statement of reality, expressed in a carefully measured and descriptive manner. We have used neutral language, stating an undeniable fact. Therefore, it is in no way subjective, no matter how hard Israel may try to argue otherwise.
As we stated in the general debate before this Committee, only one country in the Middle East is widely suspected of possessing a significant arsenal of nuclear weapons. Only one country in the Middle East operates unsafeguarded nuclear installations. Only one country in the Middle East refuses to adhere to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons or even to discuss the nuclear issue. Only one country in the Middle East refuses International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) full-scope safeguards.
Nonetheless, the reaction of the international community to this dangerous and provocative situation, with Israel at its root, remains — compared with other examples, though much less significant — mitigated and muted at best.
The achievement of universal adherence to the NPT remains a cardinal priority, not only for the Middle East region, but also for the international community as a whole. Universality consolidates the edifice of the NPT regime. This has been underscored by the Treaty itself and subsequently confirmed by the decision on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted on 11 May 1995 by the Conference of States parties to the NPT, as well as in the provisions of the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the Conference by consensus. It is for these reasons that we regard Israel’s refusal to accede to the NPT as impeding the realization of the objective of attaining universal adherence to the Treaty.
Needless to say, the continuation of such an imbalance and asymmetry between the legal obligations and commitments of the States of the Middle East cannot but further aggravate serious security concerns over the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and undermine the efforts of various regional and extra-regional parties to
establish confidence-building measures, in particular those efforts aimed at the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Regional parties that have renounced the nuclear option and acceded to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States are questioning the effect of that accession on their own national security. Has our accession, they ask, increased our security, especially when a nuclear threat continues to emanate from Israel? Arab States have delivered on and honoured their promises. Since 1995 all have acceded, leaving Israel as the only State that refuses to do so. It has not even declared an intention to do so. Moreover, it continues to refuse to place all its unsafeguarded nuclear materials and facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards, as the draft resolution reflects.
A few years ago, as a token of our support for the collective efforts, the title of this item was changed from “Israeli nuclear armaments” to “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”. This change highlighted the conceptual change from confrontation to reconciliation and towards confidence-building. It is now Israel’s turn to make a positive gesture by joining all States of the region in acceding to the NPT, the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime.
Egypt, on behalf of the States members of the League of Arab States, hopes to receive the overwhelming support of member States for this draft resolution. Last year there were an unprecedented 158 votes in favour in direct support of our endeavours. This support came from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere. We hope that this year’s draft resolution will receive even more support. The consolidation of the non-proliferation regime is a solemn duty and sacred responsibility, which we should all work to achieve, without any exception or doubtful standards.
The meeting rose at 11.35 p.m.